Property developers reinvent themselves as home solutions services
With high competition in the property market, a new business model is emerging among property developers as they transform
seeing themselves as builders of residences for sale to instead
providing a home solution service to meet customer demands. In doing so, they utilise artificial intelligence or AI to increase their business value and create barriers for new entry to beat the competition.
“We have to transform our business to create a barrier for new entry by using AI BIM – artificial intelligence building information modelling – for our design, construction process and even our after-sales service to customers. We set up our application to serve all of our customers’ demands,” said AP (Thailand) Plc’s chief business group officer for condominiums, Vittakarn Chandavimol, in a recent interview with The Nation.
AP (Thailand) set up its design and construction standards by collaborating with its building partners to ensure they know how to meet the company’s AI BIM requirements.. The system reduces paperwork by communicating through an iCloud system.
“We make changes to the design and regarding most of our raw materials through the iCloud, and integrate our information until the design is finalised and we can start construction. Our engineering, architecture, marketing, and management teams can follow all project processes in real time. This helps us to reduce the diversions from the construction process. This will also help us to control business costs,” Vittakarn explained.
The company inaugurated its use of AI BIM last year, applying it to low-rise residential buildings such as single detached houses and townhouses. This year they’ve expanded it to condominium design and building.
“This year, we’re going to full-scale use of AI BIM for all of our business units, to support our construction processes in real time. We’ll use it in our condominium projects that launch this year, with construction completed in the year 2020,” he said.
A universal design approach will allow the company to serve the needs of all generations in a family. The use of AI BIM will help the company create functional designs that serve ageing family members and also kids in the same space, supporting the unique demands of customers. “This help us to customise design for our mass production,” said Vittakarn. “Property firms have to get on-board this trend, because customers now demand that residential spaces reflect their personal needs.”
The use of AI doesn’t stop with customising design and tracking construction materials. AP (Thailand) also tries to apply AI to its after-sales services, using an app to ensure that all the needs of its customers are served. The company subsidiary, Smart Service and Management Co Ltd or SSM, is expected to fully launch the app in 2019.
In time, “we hope to develop one application under the AP umbrella to do everything for the home users”, said Vittkarn. “It takes time to combine all the applications that are in the market, but we hope to have it finalised within three years.”
The company is spending several million baht yearly to develop the AI needed to power their new customer-centred approach in all facets of their business. AP (Thailand) Plc now has a “smart POD”, a smart locker for mail and parcels, an electric plug-in for electric cars, and smart securities.
AP is not the only development company using AI to transform its business model. Sansiri Plc, Ananda Development Plc, SC Asset Corporation Plc, Land and Houses Plc, and others are also transforming their businesses by using AI and big data to change their core business model.
“We now use big data to make decisions about buying land to develop for residential projects, when previously I used my own common sense to select the land,” said Sansiri Plc’s president Srettha Thavisin in an interview with The Nation earlier. He accepted that AI and big data had changed the way it carried out its property business. Those technologies have allowed Sansiri to create additional facilities to serve its customers through mobile apps.
“We saw the power of big data and how it could change our business model,” said Srettha. “Over the past two years we moved our business onto a digital business platform. We set up a new department and appointed a chief technology officer to support and create innovations to serve our new business model.”
For example, Sansiri uses big data derived from its customers to craft residential designs that address the needs of an ageing society, as well as designs that match with people’s lifestyles under a sharing concept that lets condominium customers benefit from facilities such as a smart locker, voice box and a robot service called San Dee.
Ananda Development Plc has also adapted to technology to facilitate its services for customers, said the company’s CEO, Chanond Ruangkritya, recently. The speed of technological advancement will continue to increase in the next five to 10 years, he said, and would play a greater role in revolutionising the property industry in many aspects, from the construction process to the enhancement of urban living. The company will keep adjusting to keep pace with the technological disruption.
Last year, Ananda announced a plan to become an “UrbanTech” company as part of its strategy to deliver urban living solutions to customers. It has also partnered with promising tech start-ups to provide innovative services to its condominium customers.
For its part, SC Asset Corporation Plc has set up SC Able to invest in start-ups working in the residential field.
Its first deal was an investment in Fixzy, which is an application for residential maintenance. SC Asset said such initiatives form part of its response to evolving customer demands.
“This is a new era for how we do business under the concept of SC 4.0,” Nuttaphong Kunakornwong, CEO of SC Asset Corporation Plc said recently, referring to a vision that takes its cue from the government’s Thailand 4.0 technology policy.